CONTAINING LINKS TO 49705 STORIES FROM THE NETWORKS' NIGHTLY NEWSCASTS
     TYNDALL HEADLINE: HIGHLIGHTS FROM MARCH 10, 2008
Eliot Spitzer, the Governor of New York, hogged headlines. He publicly apologized for "violating his obligations to his family," as the euphemism goes, after he was reported to be "Client #9" for a high-priced call girl in the federal indictment of the Emperor's Club VIP escort service. The indictment claimed that #9 arranged for Kristen, a petite brunette prostitute, 5'5" and 105 lbs, to take the Amtrak from New York to Washington DC's Mayflower Hotel on the eve of Valentine's Day for $5,300 worth of entertainment. It was a Today all-female reunion at the anchor desks as ABC's Charles Gibson and NBC's Brian Williams took the night off. All three networks led with Spitzer's disgrace--Today alumnae Katie Couric and Elizabeth Vargas at CBS and ABC; current Today newscaster Ann Curry at NBC.    
     TYNDALL PICKS FOR MARCH 10, 2008: CLICK ON GRID ELEMENTS TO SEARCH FOR MATCHING ITEMS
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video thumbnailNBCGov Eliot Spitzer (D-NY) call girl sex scandalHigh-priced tryst detailed in federal indictmentMike TaibbiNew York
video thumbnailCBSGov Eliot Spitzer (D-NY) call girl sex scandalHad reputation as straight-shooting proescutorByron PittsNew York
video thumbnailCBS2008 Barack Obama campaignFrontrunner ridicules Rodham Clinton's VP talkJim AxelrodWashington DC
video thumbnailNBC2008 Hillary Rodham Clinton campaignVP offer to Obama amounted to sly putdownAndrea MitchellWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSIraq: US-led invasion forces' combat continuesShowcase capture of al-Qaeda HQ with B-1 displayAllen PizzeyIraq
video thumbnailNBCMedical treatments in US for child war casualtiesHealthy Iraqi toddler helps build Haditha peaceMartin SavidgeAtlanta
video thumbnailNBCMunicipal water supply contamination worriesTraces of pharmaceuticals not filtered outTom CostelloWashington DC
video thumbnailCBSOil, natural gas, gasoline pricesCash strapped motorists switch to mass transitBen TracyLos Angeles
video thumbnailNBCLongevity research and life expectancy statisticsGenes, not behavior, factor for ninetysomethingsRobert BazellNew York
video thumbnailABCWar on Cancer research effortsStudy ancient Chinese tumor-fighting toad toxinStephanie SyShanghai
 
TYNDALL BLOG: DAILY NOTES ON NETWORK TELEVISION NIGHTLY NEWS
EMPIRE STATE HIJINKS AT EMPEROR’S CLUB VIP Eliot Spitzer, the Governor of New York, hogged headlines. He publicly apologized for "violating his obligations to his family," as the euphemism goes, after he was reported to be "Client #9" for a high-priced call girl in the federal indictment of the Emperor's Club VIP escort service. The indictment claimed that #9 arranged for Kristen, a petite brunette prostitute, 5'5" and 105 lbs, to take the Amtrak from New York to Washington DC's Mayflower Hotel on the eve of Valentine's Day for $5,300 worth of entertainment. It was a Today all-female reunion at the anchor desks as ABC's Charles Gibson and NBC's Brian Williams took the night off. All three networks led with Spitzer's disgrace--Today alumnae Katie Couric and Elizabeth Vargas at CBS and ABC; current Today newscaster Ann Curry at NBC.

The three newscasts may have been unanimous that Spitzer was Story of the Day but they differed on his standing. Was he the focus of a federal political investigation or an unlucky John exposed by its sex crimes dragnet?

NBC's Mike Taibbi asserted that there is "no indication Spitzer was a target of the investigation." Taibbi claimed that when the feds eavesdropped on the Emperor's Club VIP they "turned up exchanges involving a customer reported to be Spitzer." CBS reported the opposite. CBS' Armen Keteyian detailed an investigative trail from Spitzer's bank finding "unusual movements of money" to the Internal Revenue Service, which spotted "a series of moneylaundering steps," to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which ordered a wiretap on suspicion of political corruption. ABC's Dan Harris (no link) tried to split the difference: he stated that the investigation had indeed been triggered by that tipoff from Spitzer's bank yet he still characterized Spitzer as "caught up in a federal investigation into the high-priced prostitution ring."

CBS certainly attacked the Spitzer story with most verve. Keteyian offered appropriate tabloid vocabulary--"tryst" "call girl"--and vivid details of the offerings on the Emperor's Club VIP's Website, with "more than fifty girls on call around the world in prices ranging from $1,000 to $5,500 an hour featuring exotic names like Sienna and Maya, girls rated on a scale from one to seven diamonds." ABC's Harris was demure, observing merely that the site claims to "service" a select group of "educated, refined and successful international clients." NBC's Taibbi focused on Spitzer's hypocrisy, noting that he "busted a couple of prostitution rings" when he was New York State's Attorney General.

CBS had Byron Pitts rerun a 2002 clip from 60 Minutes when Spitzer was proclaiming himself Sheriff of Wall Street with a "national reputation as a standard bearer of justice and morality." ABC's Harris pointed out that Spitzer is "known as a straight arrow, an ambitious overachiever." He called Spitzer's public apology "a supremely humiliating press conference." MSNBC's legal eagle Dan Abrams (at the tail of the Taibbi videostream) told NBC anchor Ann Curry that Spitzer's problem was the Amtrak ticket--inducing a prostitute to cross state lines would constitute a federal felony with penalties of up to 20 years in prison. On ABC, Harris disagreed: "He may not be in legal jeopardy but he is in political jeopardy." Opined ABC's George Stephanopoulos (no link): "It is going to be very very difficult, if not impossible, for him to continue in office."

Hats off to NBC's Taibbi, the only network correspondent to give The New York Times' Website the credit for breaking the Spitzer story. For the record, back in 2004 when then-Gov James McGreevy (D-NJ) came out of the closet as a "Gay American" he attracted eight minutes on the network nightly newscasts on the day the story broke; for Sen Larry Craig (R-ID) and his arrest as part of a men's airport toilet sex sting, the first day's coverage was eleven minutes; Spitzer's total today was 15.


DISTURBS OUR DREAMS The news from the campaign trail consisted of Barack Obama squelching talk of the Dream Ticket from Hillary Rodham Clinton. All three networks--ABC's David Wright (embargoed link), CBS' Jim Axelrod, NBC's Lee Cowan--ran Obama's sarcastic soundbite ridiculing the idea that he might become her running mate: "I do not know how somebody who is in second place is offering the Vice Presidency to the person who is in first place." Making fun of Rodham Clinton performed the double duty of undercutting her claim in that ubiquitous 3am telephone ad that Obama is unseasoned to be Commander in Chief: "I do not understand. If I am not ready how is it you think I would be such a great Vice President?" NBC's Andrea Mitchell characterized Rodham Clinton's tactics as "a sly putdown of the frontrunner" and ran a clip of the parody of that ad on her own network's Saturday Night Live. Rodham Clinton does indeed answer the phone at 3am, but as a mere housewife, face daubed in white cream: "What do I do? I am in a panic, a blind unreasoning, inexperienced panic!" moans a President Obama. "For God's sake, Mr President! Man up, calm down and listen," instructs the junior senator from New York.


SOMETHING SKETCHY Speaking of Rodham Clinton and national security, it was an odd correction that ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas announced about David Wright's (embargoed link) reporting: "Friday on this broadcast, we referred to retired Army General Jack Keane as a Hillary Clinton supporter. Not true. While Keane has advised Senator Clinton, he has also advised several other candidates also making a run for the White House."

What is odd--something that neither Wright nor Vargas mentioned--is that Jack Keane is on the payroll at ABC News as a national security consultant, according to both ABC News' Political Radar blog and the retired general's own consultancy.

Shouldn't ABC News have severed ties with an in-house consultant it understood to be consulting simultaneously with a Presidential campaign? How could Keane properly serve both ABC's viewers and Rodham Clinton's campaign, as Wright erroneously believed? Or does Vargas' correction mean that ABC News does not even bother to keep tabs on what its consultants' political activities are--that the relationship had to be clarified retroactively, not known in advance?

This appears to be either negligence in supervision or indifference to conflict interest. Either way it seems sketchy.


REMEMBER IRAQ? For only the second day so far this year, Iraq attracted coverage from reporters on all three networks. NBC had Richard Engel offer a brief stand-up from Baghdad on the suicide bomber who killed five GIs on foot patrol in the "generally safe, upscale" neighborhood of Mansour. ABC's Terry McCarthy (embargoed link) updated us on the general success of those foot patrols as soldiers leave their heavily-armored vehicles to "walk and talk with locals, drinking tea, making friends, picking up scraps of intelligence." For CBS, Allen Pizzey went into the countryside south of Baghdad to Zambraniyah, where a USAF B-I bomber staged a $100,000 publicity stunt to impress "local sheikhs and tribal leaders." After six weeks of fighting, the US military had cleared the region of a guerrilla cell operated by al-Qaeda. To celebrate, local dignitaries assembled to watch the destruction of the cell's "torture chamber and operational headquarters" with a high-priced air raid. Haditha in Anbar Province, NBC's Martin Savidge reminded us, was the town where a Marine Corps patrol had killed 24 civilians including five children back in 2005. Savidge narrated videotape from The New York Times as a family of former insurgents embraced Major Kevin Jerrard "not just as a friend but as a brother" after he organized lifesaving heart surgery for two-year-old Amina al-Bayati in Tennessee. The girl is now cured and "two of her uncles, jailed for more than a year, were specially released just to be at her homecoming."


ELSEWHERE… NBC's Tom Costello and CBS' Nancy Cordes picked up on an Associated Press investigation into the safety of municipal water supplies. Trace amounts of active pharmaceuticals are not filtered out and may have a slow, cumulative effect in human bodies. Both Costello and Cordes dismissed bottle water as a safer alternative since bottlers often use the same sources…high oil prices may finally be changing motorists' behavior. Both CBS' Ben Tracy and ABC's Chris Bury (embargoed link) cited statistics that mass transit is more popular now than at any time in 50 years. "Even in carcentric Los Angeles subway ridership is up," noted Tracy…NBC's Peter Alexander pointed out that the average American household spends three times as much on food as on gasoline. He offered examples of "agflation," higher prices in the grocery aisle: bread up 11% in the last year, milk 26%, eggs 40%…for NBC's Living Longer feature, Robert Bazell reported on a study of ninetysomethings at Albert Einstein Medical College. Some were overweight; some smoked cigarettes for years; all ate meat: "The best prescription for a long life is to have older parents," Bazell concluded…in Shanghai, ABC's Stephanie Sy accompanied cancer researchers as they studied a drug to shrink tumors of the lung, liver and pancreas. Chinese physicians make it from the venom on the skin of a toad. The poison causes spontaneous cell death, including cancer cells.


MENTIONED IN PASSING The network newscasts do not assign correspondents to all of the news of the day. If Tyndall Report readers come across videostreamed reports online of stories that were mentioned only in passing, post the link in comments for us to check out.

Today's examples: the list of the Seven Deadly Sins may be modernized by the Roman Catholic Church to be less individualistic, more socially conscious…heavy storms battered English Channel ports…Haile Gebrselassie, an asthma patient and men's marathon world recordholder, will not compete in the Beijing Olympics for fear that the city's air pollution will be harmful to his health.